Documenting and Contextualizing Pjiekakjoo (Tlahui ca) Knowledges through a Collaborative Research Project

Aldasoro Maya, Elda Miriam. Documenting and Contextualizing Pjiekakjoo (Tlahuica) Knowledges Though a Collaborative Research Project. Diss. U of Washington, 2012.

The Pjiekakjoo (Tlahuica) people and their culture have managed to adapt to the globalized world. They have developed a deep knowledge-practice-belief system (Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK) or Contemporary Indigenous Knowledges (CIK)) that is part of the biocultural diversity of the region in which they live. This dissertation describes the economic, social and political context of the Pjiekakjoo, to contextualize the PjiekakjooCIK, including information on their land tenure struggles, their fight against illegal logging and the policies governing the Zempoala Lagoons National Park that is part of their territory. The collaborative research on which this dissertation draws, based on a dialogue of knowledges and heavily influenced by the ideas of Paolo Freire, fully recognized Indigenous people as subjects. Through participant observation, interviews and workshops we documented the names, uses, myth, beliefs and stories that the Pjiekakjoo people give to an extensive variety of organisms: mushrooms, invertebrates, vertebrates and the most important useful plants. Basic knowledge about the milpa and corn was also documented. Through the analysis of the information gathered it is clear that the relation of the Pjiekakjoo with other living beings is far from solely utilitarian in nature. My initial assumption that scientists documenting TEK/CIK should work for their full recognition as valid knowledge systems that are essential for the redefinition of public policies and development projects, as well as the reinforcement of Common Property Systems, was reaffirmed through the research undertaken. I also concluded that ethnobiological research should more actively address the dynamics of CIK and its intracultural diversity related to variables such as gender, age and schooling, inter-ethnic relations and the migratory experience. I was found that due to migration TEK is locally based but not locally attached, as at least some concepts may be used in transnational settings. This dissertation is a translational work that draws on the New Rationality proposed by Boaventura De Sousa Santos that appeals for cognitive justice. Pjiekakjoo knowledges represent an immense living cultural heritage that should be documented and contextualized through the active and empowered action of the Pjiekakjoo people with support of academicians.

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